After what could be seen as quite a successful few years in terms of the UK economy, there was definitely some excitement and tension on Wednesday morning in the 100-or-so strong gathering of businessmen and women inside the Franklin’s Gardens entrance hall of Northampton’s well-known rugby stadium, home to the Northampton Saints. Having grown up in the local area, it was exciting to be able to attend Northamptonshire Limited, and get a flavour of how some of the largest firms in the area have been performing financially over the last year.
The day began with the pouring of many cups of teas and coffees, starting both confident and hesitant introductions, eventually leading to many insightful conversations between the top entrepreneurs and business people in Northamptonshire. As a trainee, it was overwhelming being there as an ambassador for Grant Thornton, in and amongst the pockets of conversations, talking to different people and learning about how they established their companies, their outlooks on the performance of the local economy, and what challenges they face in today’s competitive markets.
After a lot of networking and exchanging of business cards, we were ushered into the main conference hall to be seated. I was put on a table with a Partner (and a host of the event) of Grant Thornton, John Corbishley, as well as Managing Directors, CEOs and Chairmen from businesses across a variety of different sectors.
Upon being seated, we were greeted with a delicious full English breakfast, as well as the chance to converse with more business leaders, before being welcomed by a number of partners from Grant Thornton, who took us through various different analytics on the projectors, all the while informing us that Northamptonshire had outperformed the national average for growth over the past year, and continued to show good signs of development. For those of you interested in the statistics, the number of employees within the top 100 firms were seen to have increased by 5.7% overall, and consolidated turnover increased by 7% on last year. However, most impressively EBITDA, which is a version of profit, increased by a massive 13.1% in total. What this all means is that growth is strong in the area, and from the audiences’ applause after the hosts had finished their speeches, it was clear that there was a confidence in the room that these trends were able to continue going into next year and perhaps further years to come.
The analytics were followed by guest speaker Giles Turrell, CEO of Weetabix, who gave a fascinating outlook on what his company had achieved in the last few years, and what ideas businesses in Northamptonshire could take on board when looking to grow their own businesses even further, beings as Weetabix’ story began in Northamptonshire back in 1932, where their main factory is still based.
From attending the event, I took a lot away in terms of how leaders of top firms think when making big decisions about the futures of their businesses. At Grant Thornton, it’s part of the way we work to identify the opportunities for growth in dynamic markets, and to advise companies on the areas where they may want to explore, acting on those first conversations that often originate from events like Northamptonshire Limited.
As an associate, I found Northamptonshire Limited a really eye-opening and interesting event, and to have been invited along felt like an opportunity in itself. With the changes starting to come into effect within government that will affect the whole country, and also how Grant Thornton is changing and adapting to the market with Sacha’s transition into her new role as CEO over the next couple of months, as well as the forever-changing nature of business, these are currently interesting times. Having seen first-hand how those national changes have had an effect on businesses within the local economy in the last few years, it will be interesting to see how the success of Northamptonshire’s ‘top 100’ will evolve over the years to come.